I’ve been a fan of Sierra games since 1988 when I bought a Tandy 1000SX as my first high school computer and picked up the Sierra Value Pack with Thexder, Helicopter Simulator, and Space Quest II at the same time. So when I first started playing around with old Macs in the late 90s (when they were dirt cheap and easy to find), I quickly found out that the Sierra AGI games were not well supported in the Macintosh world.
1. Reconstructed the timeline for Macintosh AGI releases
When Sierra first started making their Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI) games available for the Macintosh in 1987, they were originally only available as Black and White (1bit) versions. By reading scans of Sierra’s old newsletters and back issues of MacWorld I’ve been able to piece together an approximate timeline for when the various AGI games were made available…. and when they stopped being produced.
- September 1987, Kings Quest I, Kings Quest II and Space Quest (b&w) were first listed for sale from MacConnection in MacWorld
- Fall 1987, Sierra’s Newsletter Volume 1 No. 2 lists the above games and Kings Quest III (b&w), The Black Cauldron, Leisure Suit Larry (b&w), a 3-d Adventure Demo Disk, Sierra Championship Boxing and Donald Duck’s Playground (?) as available (figure 2).
- This and the price list from their 1987 inbox catalog are the only mention I’ve found of Donald Duck’s playground, on December 31, 1987 Sierra’s contract with Disney expired and they ceased production of this game. I have yet to find a copy.
- The Black Cauldron entry must have been included by mistake, or unexpectedly delayed, the next few newsletters always have it listed as coming in a future quarter (see figure 5 below), and from what I can find it was never released, last appear as coming soon in fall of 1990 (figure 11)
- I’ve yet to find a copy of the Macintosh version of the 3-d Demo disk.
- They also announce that Leisure Suit Larry will be their first Color Macintosh title (figure 3)… but they later include Leisure Suit Larry in the list of games to be converted to color…. (see figure 6). Based on the upgrade information in Sierra’s 1990 Spring Newsletter Volume 3 Number 1 (figure 10) for version 1.05, I’m assuming that version 1.0 was b&w with the offer to upgrade to color.
- The Newsletter also includes an offer for owners to send in their original disks to get the latest patched versions of King’s Quest I (2.0C), King’s Quest II (2.0R), King’s Quest III (2.0) and Space Quest I (1.5D). I assume that means there were one or more earlier versions released for each of these titles. (figure 4)
- December 1987, Leisure Suit Larry I v1.0 (b&w and 16 color?) was first listed for sale from MacConnection in MacWorld, with a review in the same issue.
- January 1988, Kings Quest III (b&w) was first listed for sale from MacConnection in MacWorld
- Spring 1988, Sierra’s Newsletter Volume 1 No. 3 adds Police Quest I: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (b&w) and Mixed up Mother Goose to Sierra’s price list. (figure 5 above)
- May 1988, Police Quest I (b&w) was first listed for sale from Programs Plus in MacWorld
- November 1988, Mixed Up Mother Goose (b&w) was first listed for sale from MacConnection in MacWorld
- End of 1988, Sierra announced in their 1988 Winter (end of 1988) Newsletter, they would be releasing 16 color (4bit) versions of the previously released b&w games in support of the new Macintosh II (figure 6). They also added several games to their price list (figure 7) for future releases, many of which were not: Kings Quest IV, Police Quest II, the Black Cauldron, and Leisure Suit Larry II were all never released.
- Feburary 1989, Space Quest II (b&w and 16 color) was first listed for sale from Programs Plus in MacWorld. MacWorld also had a brief description showing the 16 color version in the same issue (figure 8).
- March 1989, the Police Quest I color re-release was reviewed in Macworld, along with a review of Space Quest II.
- April 1989, the new 16 color versions of the original b&w only games are finally advertised for sale by MacConnection in MacWorld. (figure 9)
- September 1989, GoldRush! (b&w and 16 color) was first listed for sale from MacConnection in MacWorld
- Fall 1989, Sierra’s Fall Newsletter Volume 2 Number 2 adds Goldrush! and Manhunter I : New York (b&w and 16 color) to it’s price list, the Black Cauldron (never released) was removed from their price list.
- October 1989, Manhunter I and Silpheed (not an AGI game) were first listed for sale from Programs Plus in MacWorld.
- Spring 1990, Sierra’s Spring Newsletter Volume 3 Number 1 includes an offer for owners to send in their original disks to get the latest patched versions of Gold Rush! (v2.01, i1.78), King’s Quest I (v2.0C, i1.50), King’s Quest II (v2.0R, i1.50), King’s Quest III (v2.14, i1.52), Leisure Suit Larry (v1.05, i1.55), Manhunter New York (v1.22, i1.79), Space Quest I (v2.2, i1.64), and Space Quest II (v2.0F, i1.73) (figure 10). Most of the versions were created to add support for color. Manhunter II was added as available in their price list.
- May 1990, Manhunter II: San Francisco (b&w and 16 color) was first listed for sale directly from MacConnection in MacWorld
- September 1989, Apple releases the Macintosh IIci, and begins including 32-Bit QuickDraw in ROM for all future Macintosh systems.
- Summer 1990, Sierra’s Summer Newsletter Volume 3 Number 2 includes:
- an article about their first 10 years, which includes a statement about their investment in the Macintosh with black and white games did not pay off, and a move to focus on SCI.
- there is also mention of a issue with 32-bit Quickdraw on the Macintosh and some sierra games, (see Figure 13 for an example) but with a comment that the issue will be eliminated with their new SCI products….
- the price lists shows the remaining AGI games as coming in the winter. And the list of patched versions appear to be the same as those from the spring (figure 10)
- Fall 1990, Sierra’s Summer Newsletter Volume 3 Number 3 contains the last complete price list (figure 11) and last list of patched versions for AGI games on the Macintosh which appear to be the same as those from the spring (figure 10).
- Spring 1991, Sierra’s Spring Newsletter Volume 4 Number 1’s price list no longer includes Macintosh AGI games for sale.
- But? Summer 1992, Sierra’s Summer 1992 Newsletter Volume 5 Number 2 price list for Macintosh includes Kings Quest I, II and III, and Space Quest II (figure 12). This appears to be the last time any Macintosh AGI games are listed for sale by Sierra. Did this mean that there were some later versions of Sierra AGI games that fixed the 32-bit QuickDraw issue found in 1990…. or did Sierra sell these knowing they wouldn’t work on many systems?
That’s it, Manhunter II seems to be the last AGI sierra game ever released for the Macintosh. King’s Quest IV, Police Quest II, Leisure Suit Larry II were never released.
2. 32-Bit QuickDraw killed AGI?
All of the Sierra AGI games that support 16 colors suffer from the same problem, when you try to play them in color on anything other that an early Macintosh II system, you see a screen similar to figure 13 above, making the game unplayable in color.
Based on the response to the issue with 32-Bit QuickDraw (New Mac Users Encounter a Mysterious Phenomenon, page 29), in Sierra’s Summer 1990 Newsletter Volume 3 Number 2, it appears that Sierra’s AGI games were incompatible with changes made when Apple moved from the 24 bit version of Color Quick used by early Macintosh II systems to the 32 bit version built in to ROM starting in the IIci, and all future color Macintosh systems.
What’s not clear to me, with the final sale of some games 2 years later in 1992 (figure 12) , did Sierra fix the problem, or did they try to sell off games they knew wouldn’t work on newer color Macintosh Systems?
So far I haven’t found a color version that works on anything other than a Macintosh II system… but someone else appears to have Space Quest II 1.51 running in color on a Quadra 700, the copy appears to be from the Macintosh Garden, and the Quandra appears to use 32-Bit QuickDraw? I’ve tried this same version on my LC475 and experienced the issue shown in figure 13, so I’m not sure why this works on the Quadra 700 but not on other systems?
At the moment, your best bet to play a Sierra AGI game in color on a Macintosh is either a real Macintosh II (pre IIci), the mini vMac Macintosh II build, or to play the Apple II versions, on a compatible 68k Macintosh, using an Apple IIe emulator card, or Apple II emulation software.
3. Summary table AGI releases for the Macintosh
|Game (AGI Interpreter)||B/W||Color (Mac II)||Version (AGI)|
|3-D Adventure Demo Disk||?||?||? (figure 2)|
|Black Cauldron, The||No||No||Not released|
|Donald Duck’s Playground||?||?||? (figure 2)|
|Kings Quest I||Yes (fall 87)||Yes (spring 89)||2.0C (1.50)|
|Kings Quest II||Yes (fall 87)||Yes||2.0R (1.50)|
|Kings Quest III||Yes (fall 87)||Yes||2.0 (?), 2.14 (1.52)|
|Kings Quest IV||No||No||Not released|
|Leisure Suit Larry I||Yes||Yes||1.0 (?), 1.05 (1.55)|
|Leisure Suit Larry II||No||No||Not released|
|Manhunter – New York||Yes (fall 89)||Yes (fall 89)||1.22 (1.79)|
|Manhunter – San Francisco||Yes (spring 90)||Yes (spring 90)|
|Mixed-up Mother Goose||Yes (fall 88)||Yes||1.57|
|Police Quest I||Yes (spring 88)||Yes (spring 89)|
|Police Quest II||No||No||Not released|
|Space Quest I||Yes (Fall 87)||Yes (spring 89)||1.5D (?), 2.2 (1.64)|
|Space Quest II||Yes (spring 89)||Yes (spring 89)||2.0F (1.73)|
The version numbers (and AGI interpreter version) in this table is based on the upgrade tables shown in Figure 4 and Figure 10, any mentions of versions in product reviews, and versions in my own collection. I’m still going through my collection using the Macintosh II emulator so I can actually load the games…. many crash on load on my LC 475.